Hundreds of Metro teachers across all grade levels in recent days received notifications from the district’s central office informing them they won’t be returning to their positions next school year.
Metro school officials say the release of non-renewal teachers is typical this time of year and that they don’t constitute as layoffs. Many could be re-hired.
“These are all non-tenured teachers,” June Keel, the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources, told The City Paper. “None of them are being non-renewed for budgetary reasons. That was not a consideration in any of these non-renewals.”
In all, 265 teachers were given notification that their employment with the district will terminate June 2. All were given notice before a state-mandated May 15 deadline. Metro has about 5,900 teachers employed in the system.
Keel said non-renewals result from state licensure issues. She said each year the district hires teachers who have a transitional license. Though this type of license is state-certified, she said this particular group of teachers has coursework they must take to become eligible for a full license.
“There are specific requirements as far as coursework and taking the required practice exams that they have to take in order for them to renew that license,” Keel said. “So, we non-renew these teachers every year until they can provide us documentation that states that they have met the requirements for renewal of that license. This is not an unusual number. This happens every year.”
Keel said a number of the non-renewed teachers are educators the district would like to retain somewhere in the system. But she pointed out the district has been “tightening up” on its state-required teacher-pupil ratios, meaning many other teachers are already being displaced to different schools.
"We will place all of those teachers and make sure all of those teachers are placed before we start considering these non-renewed teachers for rehire,” Keel said.
But some teachers learned they won’t return to their positions as a result of unsatisfactory evaluations, she added. Presumably, these teachers would be less likely candidates to find employment elsewhere in the district.
Erick Huth, president of the Metro Nashville Education Association, the local teachers’ union, agreed notifying non-renewed teachers is standard practice, adding that they aren’t layoffs.
“The numbers don’t seem to be out of the ordinary,” he said.
Huth, however, has observed that many teachers who aren’t being renewed for state-licensing issues are more confused than in previous years.
“They seem to be less understanding this year than they have been in the past,” Huth said.
“We have a lot more people calling us up this year wondering why they’re being non-reelected because of their licensing than we have in the past,” he elaborated. “Usually we get one or two people ... This year it seems there are more people who are in that situation.”
For teachers being displaced within the district, Metro has organized two job fairs, allowing teachers to learn about other school employment opportunities.
The first was to take place Tuesday night at the Martin Professional Development Center. The second job fair will take place at the same venue, Wednesday night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.